Friday, September 07, 2007

Haleh Esfandiari is home

Haleh Esfandiari, the noted Iranian-American scholar who was detained in Tehran 8 months ago, and has been held in Evin Prison since 8 May, arrived yesterday at her home in Potomac, MD. Dr. Esfandiari is director of Middle East programs at the Smithsonian Institution's Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Held in solitary confinement and interrogated repeatedly for 105 days, she was finally released after posting the equivalent of ~$320,000 bail on 21 August, and left the country 03 September, traveling home by way of Vienna, Austria, where her sister lives. There were numerous petitions and repeated international calls for her release during her imprisonment.
It is still possible for Iran's judiciary to summon her for a trial; although one could presume she would be reluctant to return, it's worth noting that the security posted for her bail is the deed to her mother's house in Tehran. The possibility of forfeiting the house of her 93 year old mother might still be a compelling reason to appear if required. In any case, it was a pleasure to read the news of her return to the US (see, e. g., Robin Wright, Washington Post, 07 September 2007).

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